Jentrified Citizen – Read what Kishore Mahnubani has to say about democracy vis-a-vis governance. He lauds and holds China as a fine example of “good governance” without democracy, and he continues to put down the “Western minds” which he believes cannot think beyond “black and white”.
First he gushes over how China has shown it is possible to have good governance without democracy. Disturbingly, his idea of good governance appears to exclude caring for the human soul (well-being) and human rights as he speaks largely of the wealth of capital and knowledge. It is also troubling that he thinks governance can be great and ethical when the decisions are made by an absolute power without checks and balances. In his commentary, Kishore also proceeds to contradict himself by adding post-script almost, lest he sounds undemocratic, that he thinks “democracy is a desirable goal”.
Generalisations and contradictions abound in his writings. As The Economist once said in a review of a book he wrote…Kishore “makes argument by non sequitur” and his arguments are sloppy and disparate. Indeed, some of his key points in this commentary are not substantiated but steeped in unsubtle prejudices.
Why am I even blogging about him? Because he is supposedly an intellectual and is the Dean of LKY School of Public Policy at NUS. And because he now has a weekly column (entire page) in the Straits Times to try and persuade Singaporeans to see things the way of the great white spinners. He would be a dangerous writer if his reasoning weren’t so flawed and inelegant.
PS: Watch him speak in a TV interview with BBC Hardtalk …and check out that helmet hairdo ala President Tony Tan! It’s uncanny how both men share some similarities in their pompous speaking style in addition to the backcomb.
Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, responds to Francis Fukuyama’s “What is governance?”:
Francis Fukuyama has done the West an enormous favor with his essay on “What is governance?” He is subtly introducing a distinction between democracy and good governance, a distinction which is almost inconceivable in Western minds.
To put it bluntly, democracy is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for good governance. And, yes, it is possible to have good governance without democracy. Anyone who doubts this should look at the record of China’s government over the past thirty years. It is not perfect but it has lifted more people out of poverty, educated more people, increased their lifespans and generated the world’s largest middle class. No other society in human history has improved human welfare as much as the Chinese government. It would be…
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